5 times Oscar acceptance speeches got cut off — and how the winners responded
Last August, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its plan to shorten the annual Oscar broadcast to just three hours by giving out the awards for four categories during commercial breaks. After vehement protest from Hollywood’s best and brightest earlier this month, that decision has since been reversed.
But if the producers of this year’s Oscars still want to keep the ceremony at a hard three hours, the burden might fall on acceptance speeches. Earlier this awards season, the Golden Globes tried to play off If Beale Street Could Talk actress Regina King and Green Book director Peter Farrelly, but it didn’t work. Both fought hard! Given how many people Oscar winners often like to thank, and the occasional difficulty in making it to the stage in a timely manner, some speeches might very well get cut off this year. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time.
Ahead of this year’s hostless, time-sensitive Oscars ceremony, take a look back at five times winners’ acceptance speeches got cut off — and how they responded.
Cuba Gooding Jr. wins Best Supporting Actor for Jerry Maguire (1997)
Cuba Gooding delivered one of the most memorable Oscars speeches ever, and certainly had one of the most inventive reactions to the playoff music. The Best Supporting Actor’s enthusiasm was evident from the moment he took the stage, and he knew right from the get-go that his desire to thank everyone involved in Jerry Maguire (from costar Tom Cruise to director Cameron Crowe and everyone in between) would probably get him played off. But when the moment came, Gooding turned the orchestra into the soundtrack for his speech, listing names and saying “I love you” in time with the big musical swells. In the process, he turned what is usually an awkward moment into a joyous celebration.
Glen Hansard and Marketa Inglova win Best Original Song for Once (2008)
The award for Best Original Song went to both the stars and makers of Once, Glen Hansard and Marketa Inglova. But when they got up to accept their award, only Hansard was able to speak. Before Inglova could open her mouth, the orchestra played her off using a version of the song they had just won for!
To make up for it, host Jon Stewart invited Inglova back on stage later in the ceremony. She used the opportunity to celebrate independent artists and those who dream big.
“This is such a big deal, not only for us but for all other independent musicians and artists who spend most of their time struggling,” Inglova said. “The fact we’re able to hold this is just proof that no matter how out there your dreams are, it’s possible…This song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all no matter how different we are.
Not the last incident of mansplaining on this list…
Michael Moore wins Best Documentary Feature for Bowling for Columbine (2003)
It’s always a risky move to get political at an awards show. Nevertheless, Michael Moore went for it when he was awarded Best Documentary Feature for 2002’s Bowling for Columbine. Inviting all his fellow nominees on stage with him, Moore went on the offensive against President George W. Bush (though without mentioning him by name).
“We like non-fiction, and we live in fictitious times,” Moore said. “We live in a time where we have fictitious election results, that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons.”
After it became clear what he was going on about, Moore was played off stage by a combination of both the typical orchestra music — and loud booing from the audience.
Adrien Brody wins Best Actor for The Pianist (2003)
Adrien Brody famously began his Oscar acceptance speech by kissing presenter Halle Berry, but he also ended it notably. Clearly befuddled by the honor and the rapturous standing ovation he received, Brody took his time to gather his thoughts. When the music started to play, he got them to stop — clearly, this man had command of the room.
“One second, please. Cut it out,” Brody said. “I get one shot at this.”
Earlier in the show, Michael Moore had been booed off stage for making veiled comments about President George W. Bush and the incipient Iraq War. Brody used his borrowed time to tackle the same subject, though in a less inflammatory way.
“It fills me with great joy, but I am also filled with a lot of sadness tonight because I’m accepting an award at such a strange time,” Brody said. “And, you know, my experiences in making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanization of people at times of war, and the repercussions of war. And whomever you believe in, if it’s God or Allah, may He watch over you. And let’s pray for a peaceful and swift resolution.”
The speech’s ending brought one more standing ovation for the star of The Pianist.
Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett win Best Short Documentary for Music by Prudence (201)
This might be the single most uncomfortable speech interruption in Oscar history. When Music by Prudence was announced as the winner of Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 82nd Academy Awards, director Roger Ross Williams ran up to the stage to accept the honor. He was already a few lines into his speech before the film’s producer, Elinor Burkett, caught up with him. (The action starts at around the 5:06 mark.)
“The man never lets the woman talk,” Burkett said. “Isn’t that just the classic thing?”
While Williams had been talking about how winning the Oscar felt to him (“two years ago when I got on an airplane and went to Zimbabwe, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d end up here”), Burkett pivoted the speech to heralding the film’s protagonist, Prudence Mabhena, a disabled Zimbabwean girl who formed the band Liyana with seven other disabled students. Who knows how differently this awkward interaction might have gone down now that we all know what “mansplaining” is?